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New Children's Hospital: Healthy Boost for Grand Rapids

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Cool Stuff to Know

Also in the Helen DeVos Children's Hospital families will find:

  • Four sleep rooms for families to stay in during a child's health crisis.
  • A multifaith chapel.
  • A "play room" with theatre functionality.
  • A kitchenette and laundry room.
  • A library with computers and internet access for families to use.
  • A gift shop with toys, games, books and child safety items.
  • A restaurant.
  • More than 1,500 pieces of art, created by 8,000 area children and 36 artists fill the walls of the hospital. The art project was coordinated by LaFontsee Galleries of Grand Rapids.
  • Many of the rooms feature floor to ceiling windows with a special design to prevent vertigo.

A well-designed structure should reflect the place where it is built, the people that will utilize it and a give a sense of its purpose. The new Helen DeVos Children's Hospital, which opens to patients on January 11, 2011 speaks volumes about place, people and purpose.

The very big, bold and shiny blue structure that rises up 14 stories on Michigan Street in downtown Grand Rapids does have its more subtle points and purpose. The overall interior design reflects West Michigan's natural beauty. From the lower level emergency entrance from Bostwick Street, the vibe is watery, wavy and cool and the artwork is decidedly fishy; a nod to Lake Michigan and the Grand River. As the floors ascend, the feel moves from aquatic to woods, fields and farmlands, the floors, walls and artwork taking on brighter colors, oranges, yellows and greens. The uppermost floors reflects the sky and the artwork ranges from owls to rockets. "The whole concept of the building is a celebration of Michigan's beauty," said Tom Hanley, Director of Communications for the children's hospital.

Attracting talented pediatric specialists and subspecialists to West Michigan or any community is a challenge. According to the National Association of Children's Hospitals and Related Institutions demand is outstripping supply, especially in areas like endocrinology.

Will a new facility like the Helen DeVos Children's Hospital help attract talent? Hanley says it already does.

Over the last few years, as the hospital was being built, physicians in several specialities chose to practice in Grand Rapids. In fact,over the last three years the hospital has added three dozen specialty physicians to its roster of 150. "We used to attract Michigan-based doctors or those who graduated from Michigan State University, now we are attracting talent from across the U.S.," said Hanley. He noted that the children's hospital was able to attract a pediatric rheumatologist, recently, one of 200 such doctors in the country. "Each year about five fellowship trained pediatric neurosurgeons graduate from programs and we brought one here three years ago. These doctors area in short supply and big demand and they want to practice at children's hospitals," he said.In addition, the hospital employs 600 nurses and nurse practitioners, most of whom are certified or specialize in pediatric care. In all, the hospital will employ about 2,200 people.

The new hospital will be one of only 50 stand-alone facilities in the U.S. Many of the 250 children's hospitals are like the former DeVos Children's Hospital, that is, "a hospital within a hospital" and people didn't understand the difference between the two. "We want to help change the community mindset about the role of a children's hospital and what it offers," said Hanley. Community hospitals and adult physicians don't always have the tools, equipment and/or knowledge to handle kids and their illnesses. Adult medicine doesn't always apply to children's illnesses and treatments.

While the old children's hospital shared space, like in the emergency room and operating rooms with the adult (Spectrum/Butterworth) hospital, the new Helen DeVos Children's Hospital has all separate facilities. It has its own Magnetic Resonance Imaging and CAT scan devices, six operating rooms, sleep lab, physical therapy gyms, an infusion room for children with cancer or other blood diseases and its own cardiac catheterization lab.

The patient rooms are all private and have space for parents to "room in" with their kids. The new hospital is only slightly larger than the old facility, 16 more beds will be used to accommodate young patients. The hospital serves children in a 70 county area, primarily in west and northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula.

The $286 million children's hospital took three years to complete and 6,0000 local donors gave over $103 million to support construction.

The slideshow for this piece was created by photographer Steven Depolo


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Thanks so much for sharing these!

Thanks for the compliment Laurie. I enjoyed taking the photos and appreciate the opportunity to have them illustrate a story on The Rapidian. 

'cause these are really terrific.

Ice cream at the hospital? Yes, please!